Do life cycle transitions make a difference?


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Family Matters article

June 1995

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'Despite the importance of intergenerational care, we know remarkably little about the sorts of relationships which underlie people's willingness and capacity to provide effective and quality care. It is convenient to assume that most adults and their parents get on well and that they are happy to provide each other with child care and aged care services. But we do not really know this is the case.' The author begins by reporting on research on adult-parent relationships. He then describes findings of a Melbourne based study of adult-parent relationships. One hundred adults provided information about their relationships with their mothers and fathers and, in all, detailed information was collected about 180 adult-parent relationships. Four types of relationships emerged: parent-centred parents, child-centred parents, remote parents, and attached parents. Having described these types of relationships, the author considers changes in relationships in relation to five life cycle transitions: leaving home, getting married, having children, parental retirement, and widowhood. The interviews revealed little evidence that these life cycle changes had much effect. 'Rather than providing the impetus for a new relationship, new life cycle transitions simply provide a new theatre in which the old lines of the old relationship are replayed.'

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